Train like a professional to take your fencing to the next level

 Saber Fencer Screaming

When you wake up in the morning, do you experience resistance? Wait, let me clarify that question. Do you get that feeling in your gut that makes you avoid or pull away from what lies ahead of you? Resistance is one of the strongest forces in our lives and can manifest itself in many ways. Here are a few examples:

  • Resistance to pushing yourself
  • Resistance to trying something you don’t know how to do
  • Resistance to changing old routines

Professionals tackle resistance head on

I hate to say it, but resistance is common among fencers of all levels, from beginner to Olympian. It can be stronger or weaker, depending on the day, but it’s always there. It’s always trying to get you to avoid practice. It’s always trying to get you to watch TV instead of reading a sports psychology book. It’s always trying to get in the way of your goals. So how should you deal with it? You must train like a professional.

Now, let me clarify that when I use the word “professional” I don’t mean it in the sense you might think. Being professional is a mindset, not a skill level. And it starts with the way you deal with resistance: By challenging it head-on.

Professionals honor their commitments

Being a professional starts with keeping the promises you make to yourself and the other people around you. Come rain or shine, if you’ve said you’re going to get something done, do it. That’s how a professional operates.

For example, you’ve planned to go to the gym at 7am, so you get in a workout before the day starts. When the alarm goes off at 6am, the professional switches off the alarm and throws on gym clothes. The amateur hits the snooze button.

Professionals take responsibility for their education

Most of us experience resistance when we want to change a behavior, but we don’t know how. An amateur allows “not knowing” to stand in the way of their goal. A professional takes responsibility for figuring it out.

For example, do you want to change your diet to help you feel better and improve your fencing at practice? An amateur shoves off that goal because they don’t know anything about nutrition. A professional breaks through that resistance by reading a book, taking a course, or hiring an expert. Excuses are for amateurs.

Professionals create their own structure

One sad fact of life is that it is guided primarily by routine and momentum. We are creatures of habit, and changing the way that we do things requires a lot of mental energy. An amateur is passive in this struggle. A professional is always challenging the status quo.

For example, most fencing practices unfolded the same way every day: Warm up, footwork, drills, free fencing. An amateur accepts that this is simply the way things are done and goes with the flow. A professional ask questions like: Is the most effective use of my time? Can I get more out of this practice, if I focus on something else?

Summary

I strongly encourage you to look at your own patterns for dealing with resistance. When and how are you acting like a professional? Let me know in the comments.

Footnotes

Thanks to Steven Pressfield for his brilliant book “The War of Art” which inspired this article.